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Barrick strikes deal with Acacia after sweetening offer, takeover imminent

Barrick Gold’s chief executive, Mark Bristow (Image: Screenshot from Bloomberg Markets Interview | YouTube.)

Canada’s Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX)(NYSE:GOLD) has bowed to pressure from Acacia Mining’s (LON:ACA) minority shareholders, offering on Friday a sweetened deal for the African miner that would give Barrick full control.

The offer would end a two-month standoff between the world’s second biggest gold miner and its Tanzanian unit, which spun off from Barrick in 2010

The improved proposal, already backed by Acacia’s board, values Tanzania’s No.1 gold producer at $1.2 billion (951 million pounds). The original one, submitted in late May, was rejected by the target shareholders who said it undervalued the company’s mine plans and disregarded the value of its exploration and development assets.

The improved proposal, already backed by Acacia’s board, values Tanzania’s No.1 gold producer at $1.2 billion (951 million pounds) 

Barrick is now offering 0.168 of its own shares for every Acacia share, worth about 232 pence a unit. In addition, minority shareholders in the smaller gold producer could get special dividends on Acacia exploration properties, which would add another 9 pence per share, making it a total of 241 pence.

Including the special dividends, which depend on asset sales, the fresh offer represents a 60% premium to Acacia’s share price at the time of the indicative takeover pitch.

As Acadia’s majority shareholder, Barrick has been leading discussions over alleged unpaid taxes with the Tanzanian government, which has refused to deal directly with the local miner.

The parties reached a framework deal in February, which would see Acacia paying $300 million to settle the tax claims and splitting returns from its operations 50/50 with the country going forward.

Acacia complained about being left out of the negotiations, but Barrick’s chief executive, Mark Bristow, said it was the only way forward.

“It’s a tragedy,” he said last month. “We’re dealing with a complete breakdown of relationships.”

Earlier this week, Acacia was ordered to stop using the tailings storage dam at its North Mara mine due to seepage from the facility.

Three of the company’s employees remain in jail in Tanzania awaiting charges for alleged corruption.

Today’s deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.